Mary Frances Birkel

Southold resident Mary Frances Birkel died April 9 in the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco. She was 81. 

She was born in Greene County, Tenn., and was the daughter of Robert R. and Elsie Shanks Wisecarver. She graduated valedictorian at Mosheim High School, received her Bachelor of Arts. in Mathematics from Carson-Newman College, Tenn. and her Masters in Music Education from Columbia University in New York. She taught music to grades K-9, in Ossining, Bedford Village and at the Fox Meadow School in Scarsdale, N.Y. and in later years in the Ocean Avenue School in Northport.

In 1965 she married the Rev. Raymond H. Birkel, Pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Abiding Presence and they lived and raised their family in the church parsonages in Kings Park, then in Fort Salonga. They retired to Southold in 1993. After becoming a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Greenport, Mary organized and sang with the senior choir, was a supply organist and served as secretary of the church council. She was a member and served a term as president of the local Minnepaug Women’s Club. Mary enjoyed music, skiing, playing basketball, reading and traveling.

She became seriously ill in January while visiting her daughter in San Francisco. Mary was first hospitalized in University of California Hospital in San Francisco and then was most fortunate to receive the most excellent, loving care through the work of the nurses, staff and volunteers at Zen Hospice Project.

Mary is survived by her husband and three children, Jonathan and Kelly in Prairie Village, Kan.; Timothy and Bonnie in Westfield, N.J.; and Mary Elizabeth and Bryant Lee in San Francisco, Calif.; seven grandchildren, and her brother, Willis and Louise Wisecarver in Cocoa Beach, Fla.

The funeral service was held May 10 at the Lutheran Church of the Abiding Presence in Fort Salonga, officiated by the Rev. Robert Schoepflin, the Rev. Garret M. Johnson, Pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Greenport, and the Rev. Ronald W. Wickey, organist and assisting priest at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Shelter Island. Burial took place in the Lutheran Church of the Abiding Presence’s columbarium.

Memorial donations may be made to the Abiding Presence Lutheran Church, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, or the Zen Hospice Project, San Francisco.

This is a paid notice.